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Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce and Family Law

Gavel S scale. The scale = Litigants are treated equitably. The gavel = orders and finality.

What is the process to file for divorce in Colorado?

In Colorado, the divorce process begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. At least one spouse must meet the state's residency requirement, which means living in Colorado for at least 91 days before filing a petition for Legal Separation or Dissolution of Marriage. You must file the petition in the district court in the county where you or your spouse live. 


If you have children, the children need to have lived in Colorado for the greater part of the previous six months and the Petition should be filed in the county where the children live.. 


Even if everything is settled and all of your required documents are filed, you'll need to wait at least 91 days before the court can issue a Decree of Dissolution (finalize the divorce).

What does it mean when we say Colorado is a no-fault divorce state?

The State of Colorado refers to divorce as a "dissolution of marriage", and is a purely no-fault divorce state, meaning the court does not require that petitioners prove they were wronged by one another to qualify for a divorce. It also means that the Court will not assign fault to either party for the divorce. Colorado law is only concerned with whether the person filing to dissolve the marriage believes that the relationship is "irretrievably broken" and will not reconcile.

How is property divided in a divorce in Colorado?

Generally, “marital property” is property acquired or interest earned on existing assets by either spouse during the marriage. C.R.S. 14-10-113(2). In Colorado, marital property is divided without regard to marital misconduct or fault. Issues regarding marital property and debt during a Colorado divorce are generally settled between the parties by a signed Separation Agreement incorporated into the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. When parties litigate, the Court divides property as it deems equitable, which does not necessarily mean the property is divided equally. The Court considers each party’s shares of marital property, their separate property, any child support payments, and the parties’ incomes. If you want to preserve your assets, it’s best to negotiate an agreement with your spouse about how to best divide the property so that you do not spend a ton of money litigating about it. 


 

Will I have to pay alimony? Will I receive alimony?

In Colorado, alimony is called “maintenance.” In a divorce, a Colorado court may order the spouse with higher income potential to pay the dependent spouse maintenance. The court must first consider the financial situation of both individuals, including how they have divided the marital assets and debts before it can order that maintenance be paid for the spouse making less money. A couple can always agree between themselves that one spouse will pay the other maintenance on either a contractual or modifiable basis.



Who gets the house in a divorce in  Colorado?

In a divorce, the court must divide all the assets, including the marital home. One of the first questions to arise in a divorce case where we have real property to be divided is to identify if the house is marital or separate, or both. Next, the parties have to identify whether either of them can afford to keep the house and buy out the other person’s interest, or if they need to sell the house and divide the proceeds from the sale. Where parties are both able to afford the house and both want to keep it, a Court will consider whether either spouse is the primary caretaker for the children and possibly award the house to the spouse who will live in the house with the children. However, absent a compelling factor such as the best interest of the children, a Court is likely to order the parties to sell the property and distribute the proceeds to each of them equitably. The only way to predict an outcome is to come to an agreement with your spouse.

What are my rights in a divorce in Colorado?

You have the Constitutional right to Service of Process (actual notice of the petition for dissolution). There is no right to an attorney for this type of case. 

You have the right to full and fair disclosure from your spouse of all assets and debts whether they are separate or marital. (You also have the same obligation to your spouse to provide full and fair disclosure.)


You have the right to an equitable distribution of the marital assets and debts


You have the Constitutional right to parent your child(ren). In its decision in the Troxel case, the United States Supreme Court stated that a parent’s right to the care, custody and control of their children should be free from any alienation of the children’s love and affection. The United States Supreme Court has long recognized the interest of biological parents in the care, custody and control of their children and even opined that this interest is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by the Court. In Colorado, the Colorado Court of Appeals in its Marriage of Hatton decision ruled that a trial court may not limit or deny parenting time without consideration of whether this limitation or denial is the least detrimental alternative because of a parent’s fundamental, constitutional right to a relationship with their children.

What rights do the children have?

Your children have the right under Colorado statutory law to frequent and consistent parenting time with both parents and to have their best interests considered in any allocation of parenting time. 

Children also have the right to financial support from their parents. Child Support is the right of the child. 

How is child support calculated?

Child support is calculated using a statutory formula. The formula uses each parent’s gross income and any daycare or health insurance costs for the child. The number of overnights the child spends with each parent are also included. To calculate child support in your case, use the software available for free on the Colorado state court web site: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/Forms_List.cfm?Form_Type_ID=94


What if my spouse and I agree that neither of us will pay child support?
Child support is the right of the child. It is calculated based on a statutory formula. If you can show that deviation from the statutory formula is in the best interest of your child(ren), a Court may allow it.